We are on week eight of Lady Jr waking up every 1-2 hours at night. She had one unicorn night where she slept four hours (!!) but we haven’t seen anything close to that since then, despite trying to mimic the variables that (might have) led up to that night. Alas, we’ve had a colder/warmer room, she’s had more/less naps, she’s had more/less stimulating days, she’s had more/less feeds, she’s even been between colds aaaaaand… nope.
If anything, it’s gotten worse. We’ve progressed to a point where she wants nothing to do with cuddles, or with the pacifier, or with soothing, shushing, patting – all she wants is boob. She wakes up and will cry and fuss and cry and flail until she gets it, and then she’s out like a light. Once or twice a night she’ll actually eat. Usually, she doesn’t.
I’m at my wit’s end. I cry most mornings when it’s 4.30, 5am and she hasn’t slept and I haven’t slept and I need to get up and pump and work but then she fusses and fusses and fusses until we all finally give up and get up for the day at 7am. It’s not tenable for her. It’s not tenable for us. I feel like I’m spending 13+ hours a day dealing with her sleep issues and I can’t enjoy those rare times she’s settled for more than 40 min. And the worst part is: I can’t enjoy her.
Right now she goes down for the night at 6.30, 7pm, easy peasy. Her bedtime routine is bath (well, wipe down with cloth), naked time, lotion, boob, book, bed. She’s moved from swaddle to magic merlin suit to just a sleep sack with no difference. She has white noise. We put her in the sleep sack, turn on the white noise, hold her for a moment to make sure she’s sleepy (her eyes will start to close), then put her down, kiss her forehead, and walk out.
Half the time, we’ll need to come back in once or twice to replace her pacifier, soothe and ssh her, but she usually rolls a little, fusses a little, and falls asleep.
Then she starts crying 60-90 minutes later and that’s when the fun begins. That’s when she won’t be soothed by anything but the boob, and this pattern continues every 30-120 minutes for the rest of the night. And that’s what we need to fix.
Right now we don’t let her fuss for more than a few minutes, and we come immediately if she outright cries. We’ve tried waiting sometimes, but nothing consistent and usually no more than a minute or two.
But we’re going to try a gentler Ferber method. For us, that means gradually lengthening check in periods and letting her cry a little longer. And then sticking to it. I think the most important thing is that we’re consistent, not matter which method we choose. We’re going to start with 2-3min and go from there, based on how badly/well she does. Mostly, I need it so that I don’t go in when she’s just fussing. If she takes it especially poorly, we’ll stay in the room with her.
The hardest part will be the night wakings, since we room share. It looks like we’re going to try fading for those (i.e. less and less holding, patting, shushing, boobing) and try to avoid using the boob for a little longer each night until she’s can go at least 3 hours without it. Maybe 4 if she seems like she’s doing well.
Also Dr Lady is going out of town for a conference, which may help – or may not. At least I won’t worry about depriving her of sleep while letting Lady Jr cry for a minute or two in the middle of the night.
Overall, I read somewhere to think of it more as sleep teaching than sleep training, and I like that framing better. Teaching means giving her the time and space to figure it out on her own, but also providing guidance as needed. She has all the tools she needs to do this – she can roll, she can suck her thumb, we’ve observed her put herself to sleep multiple times – she just needs to put it all together.
We can do this. She can do this.
…we just might need a lot of coffee in the meantime.